When the United States sent its forces to Afghanistan, there was a beacon of hope for Afghan girls. However, the tables turned in 2021, when the Trump administration called back its forces. This gave the Taliban a free hand despite their promises of gender-inclusive policies. Women in Afghanistan have endured years of atrocities. From tribal rule to the Soviet Union invasion, from the US military to the Taliban’s second regime, women were never welcomed in any decision-making process. The atrocities of the Taliban are visible in girls’ education and participation in the economic and political sphere.
Furthermore, the pre-conflict era of Afghanistan was a gloomy picture for a gender-sensitive approach. After years of civil war and with the help of foreign aid and assistance, women had found their ways back to mainstream media, education, and politics. During Hamid Karzai’s government, women had economic and expression freedom, and women’s status improved rapidly. When the US withdrew its army, there was a cry for women’s rights. Many had been concerned and feared that the Taliban would not fulfill their promises. Sadly, the fear won and women were excluded from many important platforms.
Meanwhile, only a year has passed since the Taliban’s regime and we see no improvement in women’s status. Gender is highly politicized in Afghanistan’s post-conflict era. Women are on the brink of economic and social insecurity. The girls’ schools are attacked; many women journalists are killed, and are forbidden to enter universities. The gender disparity is imperative for basic human rights, including, education, health, and food. Women’s rights are largely ignored by the Taliban government; hence, the gender-sensitive approach in the post-conflict era of Afghanistan poses a large number of threats. History has witnessed that the Taliban have deliberately used Islamic Sharia to prevent women’s empowerment and participation in the social, political, and economic sectors. The conflict between women empowerment and Sharia is the main topic to be negotiated with the Taliban. Luckily, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The hopes are high as the Afghan economy is at the mercy of the United States. The US foreign policy of economic sanctions could be an effective tool to bend the Taliban to fulfill their promises of including women in their policies. TURN PAGE >>